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Murder suspect still at large after escaping transport vehicle during stop at McDonald's drive-thru

Posted at 8:55 AM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 12:32:02-05

A man charged with murder in the Gary, Indiana area remains at large after he escaped from a prisoner transport vehicle on Monday.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Leon Taylor, 22, escaped from a vehicle driven by a private contractor when the driver stopped at a McDonald's drive-thru near Gary.

Video released by the Lake County (Indiana) Sheriff's Office shows Taylor open the door of the vehicle while it was stopped in the drive-thru. Taylor ran across a busy street as the driver of the vehicle chased him.

Taylor was being extradited from Texas to the Lake County Jail in Crown Point, Indiana, by REDI Transport. Initially, the REDI Transport driver told the Lake County Sheriff's Office that Taylor had escaped from the video.

"After watching this video, I am highly disturbed and disappointed by the procedures the private transportation driver used during the transfer of this suspect to our jail," Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. said in a news release. "I find it appalling that REDI Transports failed to use appropriate caution and may have put the public at risk."

Police initially said that Taylor had been wearing a belly chain, handcuffs and a leg brace at the time of his escape. However, according to WLS-TV in Chicago the sheriff's office says the video now shows that Taylor likely was not handcuffed and that security footage shows him struggling with the leg braces throughout the trip.

"We believe shackles could have prevented the suspect from getting away," Martinez said.

REDI Transport, which is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, says it has opened an investigation into the incident.

"REDI Transports continues to cooperate fully with those investigating the prisoner escape that occurred yesterday afternoon in Gary, Indiana," the company said in a statement on Tuesday. "We are also conducting our own internal investigation into what happened and are determining what procedural or process changes may be needed to ensure this does not happen again."

Taylor is wanted on murder charges in connection with an East Chicago, Indiana homicide. He's faced charges in connection with "half a dozen" robberies in the past, according to WLS.